A Good Life

Celebrate the accomplishments. Celebrate your life, no matter what.

If you watch YouTube, you might get the idea that getting a job and working for a living isn’t valuable as a lifestyle. Yes, I went to college and spent many years going to work at an engineering job. It wasn’t glamorous or high flying, but it paid well and that was worth it for me. Was I a prisoner of society since I basically went along with the program?

I have arrived at the age of sixty-three, more than three years into post-career life, with enough money for a roof over my head and food in my belly. Yes, the forty hour a week life of work was apparently less exciting than hiking the Appalachian Trail. I squeezed my joy into the weekends. It worked out ok. One year, even though I worked full time, I completed 22 marathons. No, I didn’t hike the Appalachian Trail. So what?

I worked with a lot of men who did their jobs for over 30 years. They didn’t buy into the line that working for a living is less than being an artist or a through hiker. No one, except perhaps Jordan Peterson, is making YouTube videos about the greatness of working for a living. I have a friend who is debilitated by COVID. She was thrilled to get a position where she could work from home; so she could feel like a contributing member of society. Her story is not on YouTube. Being a contributing member of society is not on YouTube.

Living in a van, hiking a long trail. These are dreams. Living in a van or through hiking is someone else’s dream, well packaged on YouTube to seem attractive. But these were not my dream. The inside of the dream is what is important. What is anyone looking for in their dreams? How do you want to feel? My dream was a simple lifestyle with plenty of space and time for running, and God showing up in the jogging. I got it.

My life is not only good enough but great. My dreams are simple and so I am living them. I also don’t need to run away from society by living in a van. Wearing society loosely is fine with me. I spent 38 years as an engineer. Don’t throw that away because some YouTuber appears to have a better life. They don’t. It is far easier to have a salary than to make money on YouTube. And remember, the YouTuber isn’t showing you the hard times, the boring times, or the small checking account.

Be proud of your job. Do it well. Reap the rewards. Enjoy your weekends. Save your money and get out as soon as possible.

Longview Half Marathon

Re-imagining the Dream

My last post claimed I\’m thinking about leaving my job; leaving the American dream. Then I got my bonus. Adding up all the money I actually make convinced me that continuing to work makes financial sense.

So the real problem with my life is me and my attitudes.

And I have spent 31 years working on said attitudes; but with a major distraction. If only I could be spiritual, float around and never work again. Such a dream landed me in a monastery for 4 years; which cost me about $500,000 in lost wages.

As a result of my current investigation into quitting my job, I realized a couple of things. Yes, work is hard and I\’m like most people in not wanting to do it. Spiritual directors say that we should follow our dreams and not work at \”jobs\”. But is working at an engineering job in a chemical plant really killing my soul? If I believe so then yes, it is. If I am consciously going to work with some other attitude, then no. Any emotional problems I have with the people at work are no different than the emotional problems I had with the sisters in the convent. And quitting work altogether would leave me with the same emotional problems.

So the real problem with my life is me and my attitudes.

I have access to attitude improvement. Mostly, it is practicing A Course in Miracles. Keeping in my mind, Course thinking instead of ego thinking is a challenge. Daily opening of the book puts fresh healing cooling balm into my brain.

Another result of this \”quitting\” investigation is that I seem to have pushed away my 2 spiritual advisers. I need to accept my own choices as the best for me no matter what these so called spiritual advisers say. I am an engineer and I must have chosen that for this life\’s purpose. I am not a spiritual author; and I won\’t suddenly become one just because I quit my job. My life is not a worthless life because I work as an engineer.

Yesterday, the bug man came so I don\’t have bugs in the house. Today, the AC man came to check the AC, so the house is cool. Is having the money to pay for such services so terribly un-spiritual?

Tomorrow, I\’m going in a marathon. On Sunday, I\’m going in a half marathon. Because of doing the 2 races in a row, I get a special medal. The swag gets hung on a wall with numerous other bits of swag. Am I guilty of a terrible shallowness because I love medals? I love races, even though I come in behind. Does this make me a spiritual loser?

The problem with my life is not my life. It is how I feel about it. And I can change my decisions about what a good life is. I need to drop the rocks.

The Dream can be a dream of inner joy. Joy just is. Joy does not have to be caused. Just think the word Joy, and I feel better instantly.

From the Unreal to the Real…

… and so went the chant we said twice a day at the ashram. It was a Catholic Benedictine ashram and I was a volunteer for a year before entering the order.

flick….I was swimming laps in a chlorine soaked pool. I was in the 6 year old age group. Orinda Country Club. Dark green speedo.

flick….I was riding a horse. A paint quarter horse. I had trained him to show in trail class. We won a championship.

flick…. I was riding my 10-speed bicycle down a hill in the east bay hills. I was wearing one of the first Bell bicycle helmets available.

flick…I was running cross country for UC Davis.

flick… I had landed at KCI. Rented a car. Driving down I29, I got my first look at Kansas City. My new home.

flick…. I was sober.

flick… I was out of work so I meditated alot.

flick… Contemplative prayer.

flick…. Kicked out of the monastery.

flick…. running for self transcendence.

flick…. I live in Texas.

flick… What if I allowed my mind to fly free? I mean really free. I mean let go.

Everyone would think I was weird and they might not like me. Do I care any longer? How do I stop eating the King\’s dainties for good? I am no longer going to try to validate what I believe. I will just believe it.

A dream. My mind expanded. Possibilities emerged. Soaring is occurring. I want to keep flying. I am a living metaphysician, monk, runner.

Awakening

Plotinus Enneads 3.6.6: \”…like dreamers take for actualities the figments of their sleeping vision. The sphere of sense, the Soul in its slumber; for all of the Soul that is in body is asleep…in any movement that takes the body with it there is no more than a passage from sleep to sleep…\”

I am a consciousness asleep that wants to awaken. Doing anything doesn\’t help. Following the instructions of guru after guru, I have been frustrated. It became time to set out on my own.

I find the light in quiet. In quiet I make some type of connection with Authentic Being. I need A Course in Miracles because it gives me my own Teacher. My workbook lesson for today was, \”Let me remember I am one with God.\” And then I became quiet. I left the world of sense and body. And I knew the vastness of The One. It was a brief glimpse, but I did know it.

Some teachers and books grant freedom from this world. There are various ways of looking at it. Some religions only grant freedom after death. But I. What do I say? What do I receive from my own depths.

I can sit in quiet and devote my mind towards God. I can wait in that place not of this world. There don\’t seem to be worldly rewards from my practice. This annoys my ego that I have nothing to show. Inner peace is in some way anti-life-in-this-world. It is pro-Life-in-That-Authenticity.

Any time I study outside, my hope become dashed. The methodology didn\’t work. But if I become patient and allow, then I know. Then I am awake. Freedom is free; terribly free.

I must do miles.

Musings on Life

OK, so I want to write the dream for the rest of my life? I decided that last weekend. Well, at least write the dream for the next phase. Last week, I also decided that the dream would not be a copy of anyone else’s dream. I plan to make my dream of my characteristics, things which seem unique to me; or at least my qualities which are way way away from the peak of the normal bell curve of human life as it is around me.

What I like: running, being an athlete, spiritual study (A Course in Miracles), green tea with soy milk, dieting and eating off the bell curve, my apartment, my Prius, and communion with my soul.

Things different about me: doing life as a solo, woman engineer always working with men, endurance, intelligence, not-going-along-ism, thinking, discipline, adaptability, my choice of fiction.

Features of my life: the levy where I run, fear of spiders, process safety, money, God and Jesus.

My life is devoid of: alcohol or mind altering drugs, friends, sex, potato chips, music, TV, voting, holidays, meat, medicine and disease, pets, property, social position, career advancement and religion.

God has been a problem since I was 22. Shortly thereafter, Jesus came into the picture. Jesus was not tossed immediately because he represented a potential promise: salvation. I don’t want salvation as it is explained in the Christian denomination: accept Jesus as Lord, be forgiven your sins and get into heaven when you die. I want salvation in different terms, like: enlightenment, transcendence or contemplatio. These terms are living things. These terms are for the now.

I deeply deeply want to escape from something I call this world or ordinary human outlook. I want something more; and I’ve been on a determined quest for the reality beyond for decades.

There is a series of doorways through which I’ve ventured. In each one, I found interesting things and useful tools, information, pain, disappointment and growth. Despite a long series of seeming failure, or at least only partial success, I seem to have a limitless supply of energy for the quest. Do I keep on? Or do I try to find something different?

I already did: dysfunctional family, world travel, therapy, alcoholism and recovery in AA, career, Harley Davidson, being a girl friend, fasting, meditation, cloistered monasticism. I reject status, titles and identifying logos.

My something different idea, my change to procedures, is to take an active role. I plan to be the conscious projector, and not be dissociated from my projections. I am going to dream the meaningful content and then perceive it materializing.

I have the tools and the energy. I’m not sure of my raw materials. I don’t think I have a blueprint, a design. Or perhaps I do have a design but I don’t understand it. Or perhaps everything needed is lying at my feet, but I am afraid of pain so I haven’t sat down with the instructions and really tried to understand them and put the pieces together.

As I wrote that last paragraph, I strongly thought that A Course in Miracles was the instructions and that I have been piecing things together. I’m just not done yet.

Different. I’ve got to be different than the unconscious people I see. I don’t want what the other people have. I want a unique pattern and I want to continue to evolve. I imagine the unlimited and endless possibility for life as an ego-less person. I can live a transcendent spirituality. I have truth, character, integrity and depth.

I am totally thrilled by long distance running and weight lifting; though I cannot explain its transcendental qualities to the non-runner. I cherish celibacy; though hardly anyone has any conception of what this means. The ascetic life is like water to a dehydrated person. A Course in Miracles is still my treasure trove, my secret box of gems. As I write this, I feel a piece of acceptance fall into place. I cannot share the things most important to me with others on the physical plane of reality; but what is wrong with having a secret way of perceiving?

I actually do dream of running forever…Taking the long way home…

Supertramp, “Take the Long Way Home”:

“Does it feel that your life\’s become a catastrophe?
Oooohh, it has to be for you to grow, boy.
When you look through the years and see what you could
have been oh, what might have been,
if you would had more time.

So, when the day comes to settle down,
Who\’s to blame if you\’re not around?
You took the long way home
You took the long way home
You took the long way home
You took the long way home
You took the long way home
You took the long way home
You took the long way home
You took the long way home
Long way home..
Long way home..
Long way home..”

Urban Tree House of Solitude

I have been given the gift of an urban tree house (2nd floor apartment). Within the upper level is one spirit (me), silent within the sound of the nearby freeway. It doesn\’t spark the yearning like a cave in the Himalayas or a hut in the dense forest. That rent is near $1000 a month, that the first floor garage contains a new Prius, that the urban solitary goes to work as an engineer, seem wholly normal and not very hermit. Why would that person bother with the ethos of solitary?

Because the life is wholly ermetical. Because the tree house is a transition between the realm of pure spirit and the delusion of the world. The solitary retreats into pure spirit for extended periods of time and then carries the consciousness of spirit into the delusion. The world is an illusion, or as I say delusion. Not even my body is real. How do we approach the truth?

A Course in Miracles 1.III.2 says, \”You are the work of God and His work is wholly lovable and wholly loving.\” Usually we look at ourselves and think there must be something wrong because we are not wholly loving. We usually think God made a flawed person. We never say that it is our perception that must be wrong because God cannot have made something unloving or unlovable. If I allow myself to ask the question about my flawed perception, I am on the way to seeing the world as a delusion and not real.

The miracle is a perception shift which corrects my perception error. When I accept the miracle and believe I am love, I am forgiven.

Miracle principle #36 is, \”Miracles are examples of right thinking, aligning your perceptions with truth as God created it.\”

I am willing to let go of everything and live the truth that God made me wholly lovable and wholly loving and that whenever I think otherwise, I have contradicted God and wanted my delusion more than pure spirit. I think about it, ponder it, reflect on it, pray for more letting go.

The perfect axiom is that you too must have been made by God wholly lovable and wholly loving. Part of my practice is to see this in you. ACIM calls that forgiveness.

The forgiven are forgiving and this is what will end the delusion of the world.

I hope I have made some headway in explaining some terminology from ACIM: forgiveness and miracle. I hope I have made some headway in explaining the basic premise of ACIM that the world I see is my insane delusion; and that I have given an opening into consideration that the premise could possibly be true. God really is love and we would not expect love to make a world of fear and suffering. Therefore, it must be my perception that is wrong. The miracle is healing.

The delusion of my body weighs 129.2 this morning (new diet is working). Now, this illusion of a body is going out running. There is a light dusting of new snow. It is 20F. I \”think\” I will be cold for three or four hours while I do my long run so I better bundle up.

Internalizing A Course in Miracles

This morning, in my morning ACIM study (28.II), I read, “The miracle establishes you dream a dream, and that its content is not true. This is a crucial step in dealing with illusions. No one is afraid of them when he perceives he made them up…. The miracle is the first step in giving back to cause the function of causation, not effect.”

I thought, “I must have learned something from the course or experienced something of a miracle if I believe, or am willing to believe, that the world-as-I-see-it is my dream. Some healing must have occurred.” It may have required reading the ACIM text almost 5 times and the work book twice, but I think I finally took the first step. [Wow! Amazing! Considering ACIM is so far off the religion map, it truly is amazing that I might have learned some of it. Maybe I can gain inner peace after all.]

The ACIM text dryly discusses the dream and the dreamer. I have to get the text into my own heart to know I am learning. My thinking I might have taken the first step framed my thoughts from last night into a context that made sense.

Last night, I thought, “I have held the ‘world-as-I-see-it’ in a strangle hold of hatred and a death grip of fear since ancient times;” all the while attempting to pound it to death with thoughts. Just before thinking this, I realized I was finally able to take my hand off the hot stove of certain social interactions. If I finally let go of the hot stove, I am free. When I realized how I had been trying to strangle the world-as-I-see-it, but that it was not the real world, I somehow did sense the innocence of the real world.

Today I recognized that last night’s thought (the strangle hold of hatred which I could let go and see innocence) was my internalization of ACIM. This morning I realized that “the-world-as-I-see-it” is my own terminology for the dream. Reading a book is interesting but useless if you can’t do what it says. When I work at something long enough to put it in my own words, internalize it, then I know the information did help me progress somehow.

I don’t have to be afraid if I understand that my former hatred has no effects, no payback, no punishments, nothing. It was a dream of hatred. When I sense the innocence of the real world, all around me, I also sense that it is God; and it is God I been trying to choke to death while bashing His head into the ground; and whom I have been afraid of since ancient times. I understand that I hate God because I didn’t know the dream was mine. I feared God because I thought he would know of my hatred and punish me for it.

Really, I admit this! Sit quietly with your thoughts and the Holy Spirit long enough and you’ll admit the same thing. I am not unique, just different in that I do sit quietly with my Teacher and work on my lessons.

This world is full of miracles. They stand in shining silence next to every dream of pain and suffering, of sin and guilt. They are the dream’s alternative, the choice to be the dreamer, rather than deny the active role in making up the dream. They are the glad effects of taking back the consequence of sickness to its cause. The body is released because the mind acknowledges “this is not done to me, but I am doing this”. And thus the mind is free to make another choice instead. Beginning here, salvation will proceed to change the course of every step. in the descent to separation, until all the steps have been retraced, the ladder gone, and all the dreaming of the world undone.”

I have hope that perhaps I actually am re-tracing my steps to go home.

I apologize that my explanation might not be good enough to strike you with how momentous it is that I might actually understand that I am the dreamer of the dream and that it is just a dream. I realize that what I cut out of ACIM text is out of context and not really understandable without reading the whole book. Also, when I try to explain how bits and pieces have suddenly fallen together for me, it is impossible for me to put it into words in a coherent way without writing a book. So, if my blog confuses you, don’t feel bad.

[Before I started to read the ACIM text the first time, I read a book by Gary Reynard. After reading that book I decided to tackle ACIM. At the outset, I knew I would have to dedicate at least one year to doing the workbook, but that it would take at least 5 years of study to have a good understanding of the material]

I ran 3:25 in bright sunshine, showered and ate a cheese sandwich. Melted cheese sandwiches on sourdough bread qualify as a major food treat for me.

Dream

I don\’t remember very many of my dreams. Usually when I do, they seem like nonsense. Last night I remembered a dream. At first, it also seemed like nonsense. But, later this morning, it seemed to carry some symbology which might be helpful to me.

I was at my old convent, although it didn\’t look like it, and I was helping them set up Christmas. I wasn\’t a nun, just living there. After we got done setting up, I needed a shower. So, I began running back to where our rooms were. I remember running very easily and being impressed by how fast and easy running was. I got to my room and gathered a towel or something. Then I went to hunt for a shower which wasn\’t being used. I decided to walk down to another old building where no one would be. At the first shower, you had to walk down some stone stairs to the basement hewed out of rock. The stairs were chipped and the railing was rusted; but I thought I could get down ok. Halfway down, I noticed a long buried sister above the stairs. She was tiny and petrified, but still dressed in a red and blue habit (like the statue of Maria Rickenbach, the name of the Swiss madonna enshrined at the mother house for that order). Half of her was in the rock roof of the stairway and half exposed. One of her arms was hanging down and I decided to yank it off as I passed underneath.

You guessed it! Yanking the arm woke that sister up. She came alive and started to grow larger into a normal sized person, alive and beautiful. She began talking to me, though I don\’t remember what she started out saying. But I remember saying, \”I think you should go back to being dead.\” To which she replied, \”But it was you who woke me up.\” She seemed to imply that I wanted her to be alive, even perhaps uncovering her and waking her up. I remember being afraid of her. And then I woke up. It was maybe 1 am and I went to the bathroom.

I went back to sleep and got up at 5. At 7 I left for the city and bought a few groceries. At 8, I was at a 12 step fellowship for a meeting. I was reading \”How It Works\” when I realized that this dream meant something.

It meant something in terms of this: as part of my A Course in Miracles (ACIM) workbook lesson, I had been uncovering my grievances, my sacrifices and my pain (these things are what my ego has to say). But also part of ACIM, is trying to realize how it is that I decided to leave God and dream an ego dream of unhappiness. The work of ACIM is to bring your pain to the Holy Spirit, to give up your grievances and awaken to your true Self within. Our ego\’s message is that we should be afraid to look within because we will find an awful demon; that we really are truly nasty and evil people. The Holy Spirit\’s message is that we are love, ideas in the mind of God who loves us and from Whom we never separated. I am confused. Was the dead sister a grievance I\’d uncovered? Or was she my Self, but I am afraid because I am still in my ego?

I am leaning towards the idea that I am awakening; because the dead sister was beautiful and I know I had taken the action to uncover her and wake up to her. But I don\’t understand my Inner Beauty, hence I fear it. This is more or less a message of ACIM, when we really let go of our ego world, what we find inside is a loving Self. When we give up our ego guilt, we realize we never left God and He loved us all along while we dreamed the ego\’s dream of separation. I think I need to keep looking at this Self and try to understand her beauty. If you read yesterday\’s blog, you will see that I am gifted with seeing the light but have not allowed it authentically in. The dream sister did at least impact me. She was awake, I was awake. This situation has potential.

I am really only bloging right now because I am waiting for the roads to thaw. When I got back from the city, I drove around my town and tried to decide where I could run without worrying about snow. I found a road that will be good for running, but decided it needed a little more melt time. It won\’t take long.